The past few nights have involved my least favorite thing: court documents. It is daunting to try and remember how many copies of each form, the timelines on serving each party and then there are the emotions that go into the process: hope, dread and anxiety just to name a few. I filed everything early this morning and scheduled an ex parte (emergency) hearing for tomorrow morning. I have done everything I can and tonight, I turn it over to God.
I discovered a couple of weeks ago that Seth has been hitting the girls frequently. It’s always when no one is watching- he is charming and charismatic when others are around and then he is a bully behind closed doors. While striking my daughters is disturbing, it didn’t warrant an ex parte hearing so I was forced to wait for the parenting evaluation to discuss this matter and others.
On Sunday the 6th, I picked my daughters up at our normal meeting location which is about 30 minutes from my home. Sarah (almost 6) entered my car first followed by Piper (almost 8). Before Piper even buckled her seatbelt, she said something along the lines of “Mom- something really bad happened today.” I immediately turned around to face her and could tell that she had been crying as her face was blotchy and red.
We sat in the parking lot as Piper recounted the events that had taken place that afternoon:
Piper was helping Seth to remove ornaments from the Christmas tree and he felt like she was going too fast. He grabbed her arm in a very forceful manner and then squeezed her arm very hard. Piper made her way for the bathroom and locked herself inside. She said that she was crying very hard because it hurt- and she was scared. She came out of the bathroom and tried to go upstairs because she wanted to call for help.
Seth blocked her from going upstairs repeatedly. She finally gave up after what she estimates was “a long time”. She sat on his couch and he proceeded to tell her that if she told anyone what happened that she would never be allowed at his house again. She grabbed her phone and went up the stairs after a while and he followed closely behind. She described him as “shaking” and acting weird. Once upstairs, she made a dash for another bathroom and tried to quickly close the door — and lock it. Before she could engage the lock, he physically forced his way in and again told her that she could not use her phone–nor could she tell me what had happened. She said he was “shivering”.
They proceeded back downstairs where he then made her write out a list of the positive things that they did that day. She told him that she didn’t want to make the list and he said that she had to do it. He then promised her a dance party (her favorite thing) if she wrote out the list – she relented and did as he requested. She said that during this time he was acting really weird and her description sounded like a manic episode. They never had a dance party.
Upon hearing about this, I immediately called the police and explained what had happened. In addition to grabbing Piper and hurting her, Seth was violating a court order by preventing her from using her phone. We were asked to come to the police station where interviews were conducted with both Piper and Sarah separately. In that moment, I was thankful that we have several friends who are police officers because both girls were comfortable talking to the officer and they were incredibly brave.
The situation is currently listed as child abuse — assault on a child. It is my understanding that the police have tried to contact Seth but have been unable to make contact. He did send me a text message which contained a video of the girls laughing and playing with him. The message accused me of Parental Alienation Syndrome. While I did not engage with him, I felt like saying, “Yes- that would be the perfect arrangement: a video camera filming you at all times so that you could ACT like a sane, normal, father to these amazing little girls”.
I am asking the courts to expedite the parenting evaluation and to order supervised visits until the evaluation is complete. Dear Family Court System: Don’t fail us now! -Tina
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